Review/discussion about: Seiken Tsukai no World Break
Poetry is an interesting form of writing when you take a step back and appreciate what it does. It can be a beautiful piece about a long lost lover or a depressing description of the death of a family member. It can be anything it wants to be because it’s, well, poetry. Some do it for fun while others do it as a hobby. Others still base their entire careers on crafting words together in intricate ways – most music is composed of lyrics that are themselves poetry. But what if it was instead used for something a bit more avant-garde? Maybe, instead of just fighting with swords and spells, people fought with words, too? Seiken Tsukai no World Break does exactly this, and it is as ridiculous as it sounds.
World Break follows young Moroha Haimura who finds himself attending Akane Academy. There, he meets two girls from his “past lives,” Shizuno Urushibara the ice mage and Satsuki Ranjou the dependent sister. Together, they fight as Saviors, defeating evil one line of prose at a time.
Whether or not it can be deemed a “feat” is questionable, but World Break does something that most anime wouldn’t have the guts to do: have their entire narrative’s foundation based on a plot contrivance. Feat or no, this is atrocious. This isn’t just a hole in the tale in the sense that they forgot to mention some important detail or they outright refuse to give it relevancy. No, what the anime does is give Moroha the capability to simply “remember.” He literally, while fighting a giant hydra or a mutated behemoth, just happens to have a recollection concerning with some part of his past, providing him with newfound knowledge in order to defeat whatever monster he happens to be fighting. This goes beyond being over-powered; main characters that are similar in strength at least have some background in regards to where their skills come from. But here, every battle involves the same unfair, random power-up at just the right moment to swing the battle in favor of Moroha and the good guys.
Yet it’s not only this broken crutch that the anime leans on. Many of the other aspects of the show don’t work because they’re unfounded or unbelievable. The aforementioned poetry is one such issue; besides being a completely silly premise, it’s nonsensical to have to write poetry in the middle of a fight in order to use one’s own abilities. Another example is the “Big Six,” a league of Saviors who are the heads of their respective countries. They seem to hold large influence, but either don’t do anything despite their positions, are uncharacteristically evil, or even become incapacitated for no other reason than to add on to the list of ever-growing coincidences. The “Transportal” being usable once a day, everyone besides Moroha being useless at what they do, Urushibara’s and Satsuki’s miraculous, deus ex machina recovery near the end of the series; there are countless instances that continually make the anime more incoherent than the last.
This all sounds like rather niche entertainment, the kind of “so bad, it’s good” media that at least provides some semblance of direction. But that’s not the case; in fact, World Break is essentially mindless in what it sets out to do. There are no themes, there is no focus, there doesn’t even exist a solitary arc that means anything to anyone. This is because our main lead is already destined for greatness, no matter where life takes him. Meaning, not only do we see that he is over-powered but it’s already predetermined that he will be. The idea that past lives have similarities across each other works against the anime, and not just there; it can be seen with Urushibara and Satsuki ending up with him. Even when there are obstacles preventing them from being with him, we “know” that they will eventually be together, and we know they will be by his side because the show’s premise dictates it being so. The finale also doesn’t have any merits. The notion that camaraderie and togetherness can change fate not only goes against everything it’s always been stating otherwise but it’s the only instance where anyone besides Moroha actually does anything, giving us no precedent for such a development. All together it’s a bunch of pointless plot points that contain zero value whatsoever.
While the quality of the art for World Break is usually low – there are serious camera issues, lighting is an afterthought, and the choreography of the action is pretty poor – it does at least give itself the chance to showcase a wide range of abilities. Various, large scale attacks such as the beasts made of thunder and lightning, the diverse kinds of magic used by the students, and the other weapons that are wielded provide the show with the opportunity to break up the monotony when it comes to not only the story it “tells” but also with the boring locales that are chosen. That last point mainly stems from where the battles take place; most of the time, they are forced to be airborne, causing the backdrops to always become cloud-filled skies. Worse still, and even though the anime is given the chance to demonstrate different skillsets, it always has to fall back on its poetry. Meaning the foreground is often littered with words and writing, which gets in the way of everything else.
The character designs tend to be hit or miss. Urushibara’s long purple hair, green eyes, and nice figure define her as the cool beauty that she is. Satsuki, likewise, has her spunky personality showcased through her fun, pink hair, yellow ribbon, and constant smiling. And Elena’s medium-length white hair and gray eyes mirror her emotionless and mysterious demeanor. The flip side contains Moroha with his single strand of silver hair to make him somehow unique, Mari’s (the principal of the academy) witch attire, and Sofia only being known for her enormous bust.
Actual animation suffers greatly for nearly the entire series. Sword swinging is often simple swipes, running is jerky and off-putting, and even when characters are sitting or talking with one another, there is hardly any movement to be had. The only portion of the show that sees increased attention is, once again, the word writing: the hand and finger motions are given nice detail since they are what take center stage at nearly all points in the show. But waving one’s hands around here and there doesn’t add up, leaving the animation in a less-than-stellar department.
What’s astounding about some of World Break’s characters is that, despite the large focus on the past, there is very little learned about any of them. And not just in the sense that their past lives are filled with nothing, for that is partially true, too. Satsuki’s only claim to fame is being Moroha’s past sister. That’s it. She isn’t strong, she isn’t fast, and she isn’t even friendly. Her personality is as one-dimensional as it comes, with her being extremely clingy and defensive of anyone getting close to her loving brother. Moroha doesn’t fare much better, either. They make passing references to his relatives’ deaths at some point in his life, as a means to demonstrate that he is “unable” to protect the ones he loves. But outside of one, one-second clip, they’re importance is insignificant. His past lives are also filled with improper explanations concerning who he is as a person; all that is shown for the longest time is that he is a really strong guy. In a way, his obtuse lack of characterization defines him as someone without a past, as a boy whose only prevalent feature being the remembering he does on a semi-frequent basis. And looking at nearly anyone else besides these two shows a glaring issue: nobody is given their past. Again, when a core facet of the anime isn’t even applied to the majority of the cast, it only serves to weaken its overall value.
“Nearly anyone” was used because, as the phrase implies, not everyone is averse to such a problem. More specifically, Elena and Urushibara do manage to use the show’s focal point to their advantage. Elena is a woman who originally worked for the Russian branch of Saviors as a kind of spy. However, she was more or less forced to do others’ biddings due to her brother being held captive. What’s interesting about her case is what is later revealed: that her past wasn’t real, or in other words, she never had a brother to begin with. In a sort of roundabout way, World Break argues that one’s past shouldn’t control what you do. It is, after all, the past, and nothing from it can be changed. Meaning, instead of letting past transgressions haunt your person, fight in the now and for the future; for it is there where the possibilities are endless. Unfortunately, Elena’s character and the message she carries isn’t around for long; after her mini story-arc halfway through the series, she is subsequently pushed to the side and barely looked at again except for the occasional fan-service.
Undoubtedly the strongest character from the anime is Urushibara. Her past is mired in violence and darkness, which may be a factor that contributes to her cool and icy behavior. Having been a slave, she’s no stranger to chains, torture, and loneliness. This last detail is important, because it also highlights where her caring attitude comes from. For while she teases Moroha, Satsuki, and the others while remaining composed, it’s her previous lack of relationships that causes her to cherish the ones she has now. Initially, she finds herself in the same situation, with no one to turn to but herself. It’s not until Moroha saves her, as he did back then, that she remembers that there is always somebody there watching over you, that there is somebody thinking about and loving you. This, once again, ties back in to her keen understanding of others and the kindness she shows towards those near her.
The opening theme has a strange vibe about it. It’s weirdly “scary,” given the instruments and the other, ambient sound effects. This may be due to World Break’s reliance on the past; learning or investigating one’s background can sometimes be filled with rather frightening details. It’s oddly paced, adding further to its unsettling tone. The ending theme is beyond generic – regular singing segments and a used-too-often beat. Overall, the OP is a step-up from the ED, but not by much.
The soundtrack is laughably forgettable, save for one piece: the more choir-like track that plays during Moroha’s “past remembering” phases that adds a sense of sadness and longing. Other than this track, nothing else stands out or is even remotely memorable.
As for voice acting, that sits somewhere around average. Special shout-outs are in order for Aoi Yuuki as Urushibara for her calm yet sexy way of speaking and Ayana Taketatsu as Satsuki for never wavering when it came to giving the peppy girl her hyperactive way of talking.
Despite all of my harsh critiquing of the anime, I still found myself laughing during certain segments, particularly those involving Urushibara and Satsuki. Not only were their interactions with Moroha pretty funny and rather cute, but the relationship they had between each other – with the constant fighting, joking, and one-upping – were typical harem antics that easily put a smile on my face. Even Elena managed to get in on the action whenever she was around, adding one more girl into the equation.
But when those three weren’t around, the show took a dive. The action was never engaging due to the poetry-usage being quite silly, the “drama” didn’t move me, and the rest of the characters were tiresome to watch. I found myself not liking anything else it was doing that wasn’t dealing with Urushibara, Satsuki, or Elena’s humor and personalities. And since the show (understandably) couldn’t focus on them all of the time, I subsequently found myself not finding satisfaction all of the time, too.
Seiken Tsukai no World Break is a show that didn’t have much to begin with. While some of its characters are entertaining by themselves, everything else – from the story to the animation – drags it down. Unfortunately for this one, there will be no poems ever crafted in its honor.
Story: Terrible, narrative is founded on contrivances, nonsensical world aspects, and mindless plot elements
Animation: Bad, art is boring and distracting despite some variety, mix of good and bad character designs, with below average actual animation
Characters: Bad, Moroha, Satsuki, and the majority are very weak, Elena is okay, and Urushibara is good
Sound: Bad, okay OP, bad ED, bad soundtrack, average VA work
Enjoyment: Fine, Urushibara, Satsuki, and Elena were fun but that’s it
Final Score: 2/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review. If you want, take part in the discussion below! :3